Be brief, be bright, be gone

Workshops are wonderful – especially when the learning goes both ways. I was delivering a media skills session when one of the participants shared an observation. I liked it so much I’ve already incorporated it into my media workshops.

The participant, an executive, described her philosophy for dealing with interruptions by visitors to her busy office. If you are wandering in to share some information, she said, you’d better be prepared to:

  • Be brief
  • Be bright
  • Be gone

And that’s exactly how to approach interviews with the media. With those six words in mind, you are set to ace any media interview.

Be brief: your interview will be reduced to a soundbite of 6 – 10 seconds. That’s 20 to 25 words. How well-prepared are you to deliver your ‘big thought’ in 25 words or less? Focus your thoughts. If you could leave the audience with just one idea, what would it be? Raise the stakes. Find the highest expression of your message that you can stand behind.

Be bright: the implications here for a media interview are two-fold. First, be upbeat. Your enthusiasm for what you do will communicate much more effectively than words. If you are passionate about your topic, don’t be afraid to show it. Passion is a great communicator. Second, reporters are hard-wired to take a skeptical approach to interviews. When they go negative in their questions, stay positive. Resist the urge to argue or justify. Simply state your position in a confident, upbeat manner.

Be gone: when you’ve expressed your high-value core message succinctly and confidently… shut up. Resist the urge to elaborate. It’s in the elaboration, often, that people say things they wish they hadn’t.